By Kelly Thomas Brown
Bula and happy World Oceans Day from Fiji! Our campaign to create Melanesia's first shark sanctuary is moving forward. The government is close to making a decision on shark protections for all of Fiji. However, the tuna industry is pressuring government to carve out loopholes that would allow them to continue fishing at current unsustainable levels and we need YOU to add your voice to the chorus supporting a shark sanctuary with full protections. At a public hearing last month, over 100 people showed up to testify in support of full protections, but it was not enough. Please help us show government we support their efforts to protect sharks.
Here are 5 things you can do to help right now:
1. Participate in the Fiji Times World Oceans Day Shark Art Contest. Print the graphic above and then draw and colour your favourite shark. Drop off your artwork at the Fiji Times in Suva, or mail to: CORAL Fiji office; 8 Denison Road; Suva, Fiji Islands. You can also photograph or scan your artwork and post it to Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Make sure you tag it with @SharkDefenders and #FinSanity. Prizes are only available for students living in Fiji, but no matter where in the world you live, we want to see your artwork!
2. Write a short letter to the Fiji Times and Fiji Sun explaining why you support shark protections. Say you want to see full protections with no loopholes. If you don't live in Fiji, say that you can't wait to come visit our sharks. Email your letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
3. Write a letter to the Fiji Director of Fisheries Sanaila Naqali thanking him for standing up for sharks, and encouraging full protections for Fiji's sharks including a ban on the commercial fishing, sale, trade, possession, and transshipment of shark and shark products, and retention of sharks caught as incidental bycatch. Mail your letter to: Director Sanaila Naqali; PO BOX 2218; Government Buildings; Suva, Fiji Islands.
4. Post our public service announcements to your Facebook wall. PSA #1 and PSA #2 talk about the importance of sharks, while PSA #3 (starring shark champion Senator Tony DeBrum from the Marshall Islands) talks about the importance of banning bycatch and transshipment.
5. Update your Facebook and Twitter status to I love Fiji Sharks #FijiMe #Finsanity Please Like, Share, and ReTweet the message every time you see it.
Kelly Thomas Brown is a Masters candidate at the University of South Pacific and is the Manager of Fiji Shark Defenders.